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Mr. E

I have served as a lead for Costco for over 15 years and I see the falsifying of sanitation logs all the time. If you contest said offense, you are black listed. I beleive in what Jim holds as a vision but unfortunately we have GM's that are looking for bonuses and pats on the back and allow department managers to cut corners. They turn a blind eye to these offenses because they utilize labor elsewhere or they cut the labor out of the department completely. This is great until a new department manager steps into an ancillary department and cant figure out how to hit his numbers and maintain the sanitation standards. So cut the standards until the district managers walk the building, that is when excessive labor is used to catch up and hide the fact that the ssop standards are not being followed. I am Costco to the bone, but I have been witness to the abuse of middle management. If you want to hit the numbers they want, you have to throw honesty and integrity out the window. This is why supervisors and managers step down, they get tired of the lies and being held responsible for maintaining standards that they are not allowed to schedule labor for. Costco is a great place to be an hourly employee, but you have to be willing to sell your soul to become middle management.

Perry

Moreover, my experience with Costco management is that the majority generally treat the employees like enemies rather than partners in the business.

But hey, Costco might be the place for you if you do not have an education or any aspirition to do something better in life. Maybe you have a family member or friend who can grease the skids for your ascension into management with little or no education.

Perry

I worked for Price Club/Costco 10 years from 1991 to 2001 between two different warehouses. My experience with Management was 80% bad 20% good. Most of the 20% good managers have left the organization over the years. Most of the 80% of bad managers remain with the organization because they are not capable of finding jobs outside of Costco.

Costco is run like a communist organization. Merit means nothing to them. Family and friends of Management are given preference while hard workers are typically taken for granted.

Yeah, they pay a few dollars better than Wal-Mart, but is that really saying very much? They also use one of the worst medical insurance companies in the country and barely contribute a few cents to 401(k)s but continue to beat the drum that they give such great benefits. If low paying retail and minimal benefits is your thing, and you like to work hard on nights and weekends then Costco is the place for you. Speaking from experience of their brutal medical insurance company ... they cut my daughter off from critical coverage when she needed it most.

While Jim Sinegal might be a good guy, the middle managers that he hires are less than desirable.

Speaking from 10 years of experience. One of the best days of my life was when I walked out of the warehouse for the last time.

Anon

I am a looong time employee of over 25 years and I never encountered the horrible management in which I am working under right now. There is no"open door policy" and seniority means absolutely nothing in our warehouse. I am now scheduled to work until 9:30 in the evening 2 days a week and people with way less seniority get out at 6 pm. Their excuse is that as a part-time cashier I have less seniority than a full-time cashier that has been there for only 5 years.
I worked the worst schedules when I was full-time. I paid my dues. Our manager hates that we are a high payroll warehouse and has said that he would like to decrease payroll. How is that done? The first comment sounds exactly like my warehouse. I bet you it is my warehouse. Our good managers are brainwashed by the tyrant manager at this warehouse.
It is their mission to make people miserable and quit entirely. Sadly, a few have done so already. Costco has become Wal-Mart!!!

max

Things are changing in Costco land. Name badges have changed. Also the CEO has changed too. Mr. Senegal has some what stepped down. Now the new guy is all about making money and he does not care about the employee. Our warehouse mgr has now become a tyrant. They are making up rules as they go along. Like all the merchandisers now have to open the frontend. That means all the senior employees ,who have more years then most of the stockers or forklift drivers, get their hours pushed back. Plus now they are switching everybody's days off. Some of these employees have babysitters plus medical people coming to their houses. A couple of employees have to take ether their parent(s) child or spouse to doctors appointments that can only be done on those days. Where's the 'QUALITY OF LIFE' stated in our hand book. Oh wait it gets trumped by 'DIRECTION OF WORK FORCE'.
We are the only warehouse that is doing this even though our Mgr states all the warehouses are doing it. HHMMM?!?! That's funny...I called some friends at other warehouses and they never heard of it. One warehouse is in the same city the other is out of state but the same district.
They are also now telling us we have to work as a cashier and assistant and still maintain a 55 MPH a day or we will be written up for poor work performance. All because we make good money. I have told them I had better start getting paid to do two peoples jobs, or I will close my line down until I get an assistant.
What has this place come to? It use to be fun going to work but now it is not.

Steve

No organization is perfect. I'm a "lead," which is to say, I'm a supervisor sometimes, at a Costco. Having worked at two different warehouses, I've seen different management styles. In my former warehouse, some of the managers could be A holes, but they did everything by the book, which, in my experience at least, provided for a fair working environment. At my current warehouse, we have a good team of managers in terms of their approachability and in terms of their obvious concern for the welfare of their employees, however, they are inconsistent which has created morale problems for some people.

As a supervisor, I'm constantly being pressured to get better and better results out of my team. The work is very tough. Sometimes management has expectations of us that are beyond unreasonable. After all, I would love to see our lines shorter in my department, but when I've had two sick calls on a busy day, I can't exactly manufacture an additional cashier from thin air.

On the whole it is a great company to work for, but in return for the pay and benefits, there is a great deal of pressure to perform, and it's not always evenly applied pressure. I'm sure that there are many warehouses where management could use a good shake down, but one also must realize that there are people who simply aren't good workers and may have a less than satisfactory working experience at Costco because their own work ethic has made them a management target.

Johnny

His is so spot on, as others have attested:

Middle and lower management has a lot left to be desired. They are undereducated and undertrained in HR functions; there is no onsite HR manager in the warehouses. This leaves the managers vulnerable when making promotion and disciplinary decisions. The vision of top management is broken at the warehouse level. Most managers are grossly undertrained, under qualified, undereducated and as a consequence they manage with a dictatorial, contemptuous style that destroys the morale and confidence of the employees. Most employees feel the tenant, “take care of the employee" is entirely disregarded by the management at the warehouse level. There is understandably a low level of autonomy at the hourly level, but this coupled with disrespect and disregard of employee input by the managers weakens the company.

UK 12 year disillusioned employee

having read all of the above, I feel that I have to side with the negative experiences of costco. I will say that I have had some good managers overs my 12 year career, but I have noticed lately that management are more interested in money than staff. I must also say that most managers promoted within do seem to be bullying idiots whose only saving grace is that they'll work a 16 hour shift when told to do so.
I work in the UK and have noticed the decline in the quality of management and how it affects the staff. Morale in my location is at the lowest it has been since I started there. Good managers either leave, or end up stepping down, whilst the bad ones just keep on coming. There is a fear of retribution amongst staff if anyone speaks out against any senior site management. I have experienced this first hand.

The only reason I remain there is that I can't afford to leave as the pay is good, but as soon as I can I'll be gone. Costco will lose all it's good employees if it continues down this road.

Max

Today I experienced bullying from manager at Richmond Costco BC Canada. They say there is an "open door policy". It doesn't exist here. They have overworked stockers to tendinitis but nobody dares refuse work for fear of losing work. Management ignores it when women get man-handles at the warehouse, a hole rules. Seasonal workers are dispensable and condescending them by some managers are freely permitted in favour of managers When seasonal workers report bullying. Retribution from that manager is dismissed by higher management. It seem a very mafia-gang-like flavour in the stocking depts. I was shocked beyond belief. This seniority promotion system versus worthiness based system has endorsed unbelievable number of a- hole management style people through the system and this has to stop. It happens in many warehouses across Vancouver BC.

Donovan-20year costco hourly emp.

The veteran employees are topped out earning 20 an hr & a bonus of 3,500 every 6 months. We or I have stepped down only because we make enough $ without stress of mgmnt. We also have lost our drive to move up.We love our job serving.Just like a good quarterback,a mgr has to have some cockyness

linda

i started at costco in 2005. i was given full time within 10 days. i had to go back to part time within 2 months.after that i was dirt in there. there is no respect,no positive ,its all negative. is it costco? i m not sure. but i know that im an excellent worker and team player and in 40 years of work i have never been treated like i have at costco. no matter what i do it is never enough or its done wrong. and i had 11 years of experience at another warehouse club. some employees get treated great, but if you care and try to do the right thing,you get used and abused constantly. i feel that it starts with the upper managment. tomorrow will be my last day at costco. i just cannot put up with all the negative anymore. after 3 weeks of every job i ve ever had the employer knew what a great and hardworking person they had in me. its been over 3 years and 11 years of experience in this environment and according to the management in costco i still can t do anything right. therefore i m done trying and they are losing an exceptional worker. there are no regrets with this decision.

Uk Costco Duty Manager

I'm a duty manager in the UK, I could go on and on about the hypocrisy that is Costco. I have a Bachelors and a Masters degree and really bought in to Jim's vision. I'm about to say enough is enough and go back to waged where the conditions are good. Couple of examples. In Costco's principles we are meant to be fair with our vendors. Some vendors will take back anything, some will only take back faulty goods eg Sony, so if someone brings back a PSP or PS3 just because they've changed their mind, we damage it so Sony will take it back. Keter sheds? They will issue a destroy for credit i.e. we say its faulty, they give us credit and we destroy it for them, or more likely sell it to a salvage member, 2 bites of the cherry! Duty managers are bullied by senior managers and are expected to take up any slack made by looking after waged empoyees. I've never had a single visit we have not known about for weeks and have prepared for including falsifying documents, (US audit, are you listening), except I know who will get the blame...

Oh, and a lot of the stuff we sell is cheap China imports produced under slave conditions.

I could give a lot more detailed examples but until I get a new job, I need this one, alternatively, Jim, I bought into your vision, get Murphy, Papas and Morrow et al. to earn their crust and see what is really going on.

Rachel

For those who are claiming that the original writer's opinion is based upon one location, read over his letter again. They specifically say that it is not, and that they have heard similar experiences from Costco employees in various other locations. Doesn't mean all locations are like that of course, but it does mean that this is not an isolated, single incident.

Costco Employee

To other employees from another happy employee who thinks Costco is great to work for.

I definitely see what the oringinal blogger was talking about. How many managers/sups have we had step down in the recent past. How many managers or sups are condescending or out of line in behavior? How many in charge abuse the rules more than the hourly's they bring it down on? I am sure it is different in each building, but it happens in ours. Most employees, including myself say nothing.


Although I totally agree with what the second employee said in response to the original letter, they have to be taking a blind eye not to notice. If the dog and pony show the entire week including the day of before Jim Sinegal arrives at a building (pressure washing, painting the building, mulching, electricians, overtime hours, double staff,....etc) is not enough to make them think that its all an act then they are mentally incapacitated.

Although Mr. Sinegal still visits each building once or more a year it is very premeditated. The three or more "pre-walks" to a building before he even arrives is another indication that could be used to dispute his dis-attachment with the buildings true operations. He might very well think,.....or want to believe, that this is how it always is and looks. In reality it makes the company work, somewhat dysfunctional, but we get it together once a year for his visit. Unannounced visits would be better.

I take offense in what the second employee says as far as the first employee being the minority in this thinking...it hope this is not the case. I believe the majority feel this way they just never voice it to management because management will not rectify employee problems let alone theirs.. The first is not saying Costco is bad at all, in fact not once,...they are commenting on the fact that there are a few people in charge that never get served a hot plate of FU from the higher ups because they also turn a blind eye. This does not go unnoticed and also trickles down to employees who abuse this blind eye policy as well. WE HAVE HABITUAL OFFENDERS.

It may all stem from this, Costco's management model.

Promote on seniority rather than superiority.

Bob Sutton

Bob,

Thanks for telling the other side of the story.

Bob Sagamano

As another Costco employee I can tell your the letter writer probably works in a warehouse with a manager that does not reflect the vast majority of Costco employees.

I have worked in several different retail environments and can tell you without hesitation that Costco has the best pay, benefits, and work atmosphere of them all.

Costco like the rest of America has some employees that you couldn't satisfy if you paid them in gold twice a week. Two things show me that things are pretty good at Costco - the employees stay (avg. tenure at most meetings I attend is over 10 years. The second thing is how you see the same people every time you shop at Costco. Most retailers turn half there staffs every year. I have worked with the same group of co-workers for years.

Your letter writer is in the minority in his feeling about Costco. Some people's problems start with themselves.

Wally Bock

It's dangerous to take any single communication as representative of what's happening at any company as big as Costco. It might indicate a problem for the company as a whole, but it might also be the experience of one person in one place in a large company.

I blogged about my experience as a Costco customer last December. In that post I told about how a supervisor acted, how her team responded and how praise was shared in one specific instance.
http://blog.threestarleadership.com/2007/12/21/why-i-shop-at-costco.aspx

We shop often at two of their stores, one near us and one near our daughter's home in a nearby city. The experience at both of those stores is uniformly excellent. Managers do not appear to be turning over or stepping down. Things seem stable on that front.

Store managers have a huge effect on both morale and productivity in individual retail stores of any kind. Perhaps the writer is in a store with a bad manager.

Now to Mr. Sinegal. I was in one of the stores we shop at when he visited. I was nothing like a "quick walk-through." In fact, I commented to my wife that it was not like the typical HQ "parachute and run" visit that CEOs often do.

What this give us, I think, is two different data points. To figure out if there's a "power corrupts" situation at Costco, we need a bit more.

Michael Sporer

Bob;

I too am impressed by Jim Sinegal and have done a blog post about him. Jim is an old-school marketer, and although he treats his employees well, maybe he is losing site of the importance of building an overarching culture of mutual respect. After all, culture trumps process and even pay sometimes! Inflated egos gone unchecked can quickly make for an asshole-infested environment.

Mike

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